Sunday, January 24, 2010
Happy Deja Vu - Packed like Sardines!!
Exams!! Can you imagine having to take a 3.5 hour long one after years of writing little more than scrawling your name across a paper or occasionally taking copious notes at a 15 minute press conference? Well, that's the reason for the lull in my 'post'-production - that's a cheap tribute by the way, to my erstwhile specialisation in broadcast journalism and video production!! So now, that my travels through the countryside have wound up, did you think I gave up travelling for good? The snowfall did keep me in Brighton for longer than I thought..and then the exam and submissions... But this week, I went back to London... The visit was prompted by the arrival of a close friend from India...But this visit of mine once again reminded me of the bustling metropolis I left behind.... On a Saturday, try getting into a tube on any line of the London Underground. If you want to grind out your misery, try the Northern Line - (psst...it's said to be the oldest line on the map, and does it act out its age or what!!). Well, it's most often truncated in fits and bursts between weird and funny sounding stations like Angel and Mornington Crescent - and for those who have to make a journey there, guess what the London Rail people say under their breath of course as they make repeated announcements over the public announcement system " Well tough luck, try the bus stops, they are quite close to the exits of the station. You will get to your destination - eventually.." I had to make my way to Old Street from Victoria...two different lines...and trying to move from one to the other is like trying to march to two different tunes alternately... Hmm...for those who don't know London it's kind of difficult to understand what I mean...See from Victoria which is on Victoria line, you need to swap at some point to the Northern Line and if you don't decide your stop right ( Psst.....again...I never get it right automatically!) you might just have to hop out and get on another train, coz the line forks into two and there is no knowing which line you stumbled into...they all meet up at some station though!! Ok, here's a map just to give you an idea...Mind you, the intention is not to confuse you, so just look at the different colours..that's how many lines can be possibly hoped...Mumbaikars aren't you thankful there are just three lines to worry about in our constantly abused but misused system??? So some back-ing and fro-thing ( well, literally so that I'm not accused of resorting to Indian stretchable time!) I make it.... Now the truth is I tried to find an Indian equivalent...say like having to go to Charni Road in Mumbai from maybe Vashi in Navi Mumbai...Hop lines and all that jazz?? But frankly, I'd do the London tubes...it's better explained and the surge of humanity is more polite and does not shove...though the surge of humanity on a Saturday evening is no less than Mumbai peak time.. And considering that I'm just of proud Indian-standard height which is nothing to write home about...a measly 5 feet 3 struggling inches, here I was standing in the crook of someone's armpit looking through the enlarged nasal passage of yet another one, trying to rescue my butt from something poking out of the 'lady behind me's shopping bag....and that's when it hit me....Deja Vu!!!! How many times have I done this merging my self into the faceless population on a train journey in Mumbai?? Well, lost count...and here was my count register in the United Kingdom beginning with a similar experience...With one big difference...In India, I can suss out train stations with my eyes closed...gut instinct and then the distinct smell of different localities - like the smell of glucose biscuits as you cross towards Vile Parle and the distinct 'only Kurla muck special' on Central Line...But here in London, I crane to catch a glimpse of the little flashing messages of which stations approach, even as my ears try to pick out the announcements over the din... The new Mumbai local trains have installed an audio-visual system for announcing stops...I never appreciated it then...I do now...Miss the train journey from Andheri to Lower Parel...and the occasional traipse through South Mumbai to Nariman Point... How many would walk out of an extremely crowded train after some difficulty wriggling out at the stop before the doors closed? I'm thinking not many British...but one Indian was... Made me feel just at home.....London tubes have begun giving me happy Deja Vus....especially when you travel packed like Sardines...